BOSTON (CBS) – It isn’t very often that we get a news story out of Washington that can accurately be described as a turning point. For all of the hype that surrounds it, our political process is constructed to dilute the impact of any single event through deliberation and delay.
But the start of two days of testimony Tuesday before Congressional Committees by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg could be a profound moment in our economic and cultural history.
For the first time, Zuckerberg may be forced to confront unpleasant truths about the way he does business outside of his protective bubble and under oath.
Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana put it well Sunday.
“We have a problem. Our promised digital utopia has minefields in it. Mr. Zuckerberg has not exhausted himself being forthcoming,” he told CBS News’ Face the Nation.
Instead, Zuckerberg has built one of the world’s richest and most influential companies on a foundation of deceit and exploitation. Over and over and over again, Facebook has been caught violating its users trust and privacy and acting like a predatory monopoly, feigning surprise and contrition when its abuses are exposed and issuing hollow promises of reform.
They are hardly the only tech giant to be guilty of irresponsible behavior, and abusive business practices are not confined to the tech world. But Zuckerberg has led the league in sanctimony and phony rhetoric about “bringing us together,” even as he enabled divisiveness to poison the well.
Zuckerberg is going to take a well-deserved beating today and tomorrow from members of Congress. Here’s hoping it shocks him and his fellow predators into some genuine soul-searching.